HPU Baseball Battles Back In The Ninth For A 6-4 Win At VMI

LEXINGTON, Va. – The High Point University baseball team scored four times in the ninth inning to come from behind for a 6-4 win over VMI on Saturday afternoon in Lexington, Va. Sophomore Josh Spano knocked in the game-winning run to complete a four-hit day for HPU.

“I was really impressed with this team’s ability to fight back from an early deficit today,” head coach Craig Cozartsaid. “We saw that four-run first as an opportunity to do something great. I am proud of the way Retz battled for five innings after that four-run first. Jared Avidon was unbelievable, coming in and slamming the door. Our upper classmen stepped up in the ninth. The middle of the order really came through and welcome back Josh Spano.”

High Point trailed 4-2 entering the ninth inning but loaded the bases with no outs on three-straight singles by sophomore Dane McDermott and seniors Willie Medina and Devin Bujnovsky. Senior Ryan Retz hit the Panthers fourth-straight single to drive in the first run and sophomore Spencer Angelis followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4.

With the score tied, Spano came to the plate and hit a single to center to drive in Bujnovsky as the go-ahead run, putting High Point ahead, 5-4. The Panthers added one more run on a groundout to first by graduate studentAdam Barry which scored Retz from third.

Senior Jared Avidon earned his team-high sixth win of the season with four scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Avidon allowed just two walks while striking out six including the side in the ninth inning.

John Garrett took the loss for VMI. Garrett gave up four runs on six hits over 1-1/3 innings of work.

VMI scored four runs on five hits off Retz in the first inning to take an early 4-0 lead. The Keydets got RBI singles from Ray Lopez, Rob Dickinson, Matt Winn and Thomas Stallings to take the early four-run advantage.

High Point got a run back in the top of the fourth inning when Spano hit a two-out single and came around to score on an error by the VMI second baseman. Spano hit a single back up the middle and advanced to second on a wild pitch before coming home on a throwing error on a groundball by Barry.

High Point picked up another run in the top of the seventh inning when junior Kyle Brandenburg came home on a throwing error by the VMI shortstop. Brandenburg led off the inning with a bunt single and moved to second on a groundout. Medina hit an infield single to short and the throw went wide allowing Brandenburg to trot home from third.

After allowing four runs and five hits in the first inning, Retz and Avidon combined to allow just two hits over the final eight innings of the game while striking out nine.

Spano finished 4-5 in the game with an RBI and a run scored. Medina, Retz and McDermott all had two hits and a run scored in the win.

The victory over the Keydets completed a three-game sweep of VMI by the Panthers. HPU finished with three-straight road sweeps in Big South play.

With the win, High Point finishes the regular season with an overall record of 29-27. It is the Panthers’ second winning regular season in their Div. I history. HPU’s 15-9 record in Big South play is its best-ever record in the conference. High Point previously won 15 conference games in 2010 when the team finished 15-12. VMI finishes the season with an overall record of 20-35 and a record of 6-18 in the Big South.

The Panthers have earned the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Big South Championship, its highest-ever seed in the tournament. High Point’s previous high seed was a four seed which the Panthers achieved in 2006 and 2010.

“This is a special way for the team to end the season, clinching the best conference record in our Div. I history,” Cozart said. “It is appropriate that this happened with a core of guys we recruited four years ago. These guys deserve this; they fought through a lot of adversity this season. By no means is this season over. We plan to make a run in the conference tournament.”

High Point will take on No. 6 Gardner-Webb in the first round of the Big South Championship. The Panthers took two of three games at home against GWU during the regular season.